Sunday, 21 June 2009


1. New Writing
A solid week. New part of the novel begun, 6,000 plus words completed that I am happy(ish) with.
Novel wordcount is now c. 75k of which a lot is fluff, but we’re getting somewhere. I also finally, after a lot of procrastination, made a diagram of time-sequences and family relationships– now done. It has added to the sense that ‘I know where I am going’ with this behemoth. This will guide the final two sections as and when. Then will come the editing.
The section I’m working on will hopefully be first-draft-done this coming week.

2. Competition news
I got this email:
Congratulations! Your work has been chosen as the Editor's Choice in Prose for The Binnacle's Sixth Annual Ultra-Short Competition. The judges and I loved it... I should say that I am not one of the judges for the contest, only an arbitrator. I do, nonetheless, read every entry. Typically, I very much concur with the judges, but there are usually a couple works that really could have just as well won one of the prizes. That is where I step in and say that we ought to have at least some recognition for them. When I read your piece, I was just blown away. Wow!
They had over 900 entries, so that's lovely news. It's also nice to know how 'Ed's Choice' is organised - I didnt know! Also, this micro-fiction comp hasn’t yet declared the winners publicly. As soon as it does, I will change this post, and also I will be able to give congrats to the talented friend who has won… clever lady!

3. My Books news

Ed’s Wife and Other Creatures
This is my second collection, very very different to the first. Funny, for a start…
Ed’s Wife will be published on 1st November, by Salt Modern Fiction. Details were finalised this week. Forms signed etc.
Ed’s Wife and other Creatures is a gathering of 70 micro-fictions of which a few have won awards. About 20 will have been published in print in Australia, Ireland, USA and online. And a few translated into a couple of languages other than English.
Words from a Glass Bubble
I am watching with interest as the hardbacks dwindle on Amazon and the paperbacks take over. As I write, there are three used copies left, at extortionate prices!
Three starting at £50.00 plus postage. Yep. FIFTY QUID. Well if anyone is desperate, I have a few hardbacks left, for a lot less than that.
Short Circuit- The Salt Guide to the Art of the Short Story
I heard from Salt this week that the book is huge! It comes out at a whopping 240 pages, the largest the printer can manage, and will retail at £12.99 plus, I assume the usual discounts if you purchase direct from Salt Publishing
4. Teaching news
• Invitation to run a day’s creative writing workshop in October at Shapwick specialist school for dyslexic students in Somerset. Interesting, it will be on their Open Day, and will be great fun to welcome in visitors to the workshop!
• The five-session Short Story for Beginners Workshop at the West Cork Literary Festival week in July is a sell-out.
I was asked at very short notice if I would step in and take the workshops, as the original leader had to sadly pull out. I was fully expecting some of those who had signed up to slide away, and am delighted it is full. We'll have a good week.

5. Submissions News. ‘Art from Art’ Anthology USA
I sent a previously published story to Modernist Press (Los Angeles and New York) in response to a call for short stories based on works of art. Their previous collection looks good quality, with some great writers therein, including Sean Levin. They accepted the story, which is nice. And they pay well, plus copies. It looks a very interesting press, and an interesting anthology.
Here’s the detail for the call from the Modernist Press website:
This collection of short fiction by literary writers aims to feature stories that are connected directly to—or inspired by—a work of art. It could be a song, a painting, a museum, an architectural monument, a blueprint, a piece of writing—a play, novel, poem, letter, etc. The art in question needs to be a major component of the story—a character—within the fabric of the story. Perhaps the idea will be inspired by an event from life or maybe it will be something completely fabricated.

All genres welcome. ART from ART will bring new and established voices and ideas to a fine collection of fiction. I aim to have the art featured on a page either at the beginning or the end of each story—a visual correlative that will enhance the experience. Submit your story and a brief bio via email to Stephen Soucy at Please follow standard submission guidelines (Microsoft Word Document with 12-point font).
UPDATE: Payscale for this project is $100 for the right to publish each author’s story in the anthology, and two copies of the finished book. I’m finding that stories between 2000-5000 words are working best. I’m really looking for a story with a completely developed narative and with finely drawn characters. I’m not looking for a brief 2-page piece, and I’m not open to poetry at this time.

6. Competitions closing soon.


Prizes in each category: £5000, £1000, £500, £50 x 10 Runners-up. Plus The Dorset Award: £100
Details on website include online submission form;


NB: only for entrants who have not previously had a collection/novel published.

7. The Weird World of Writing
I received quasi-blackmail emails from a writer who I sadly had to remove from The Fiction Workhouse a year ago.
I ran a competition on this blog a while back; the prize – a copy of my collection, with a handwritten extra flash piece. I had a few decent entries. The best in my judgement was by a Mariel Newley.

I sent the book. Published the work HERE together with her bio. Then on Friday, I received a long and strange email.
Here are some excerpts:

I am “Mariel Newley”…. I did plan to continue writing as Mariel and eventually to ask, as Mariel, to join the Workhouse, and if accepted (as I think I very possibly would have been) to tell the story ... which is a damning one: you threw me out, ostensibly for not being a good enough writer,

Nope. In the end, I deleted a membership because that member among other things called me a liar. Members had complained to me about having to critique some aspects of her work, and she refused to believe this. She wasted our time, constantly defending this work. That’s not what the place is about. There comes a point when you have to say your working relationship has broken down. So she went.

This is her second attempt in a year to gain re entry. Both times, the attempts are littered with threats and demands, exhortations to be polite (!!) exhortations to not do this or that because she is very very angry and will ‘take action’ if I publish her messages.. Well stone the crows,


The writer of letters/emails retains copyright. But when those letters are gratuitously abusive, somewhat cranky and defamatory, I think it is OK to reproduce excerpts here. Under normal circumstances I would credit them to the writer. In this case, let’s just say that they are from ‘Mariel Newley’. This is a small selection.

I decided that if I carried through my plan to re-join as Mariel, this would only cause further pain. I am not interested in taking revenge. What I want isn’t to humiliate you by showing up your cruelty and prejudice, although God knows, you bloody well deserve it. What I’m interested in is justice.
I am not, as I think I’ve just shown in taking the decision not to proceed with my plan, a vengeful person, or a natural bearer of grudges. I am quite capable of forgiving and forgetting, with no bad feeling remaining. That would be the ideal outcome - such problems as these are best dead and buried.
I want an (sic) re-admittance to The Fiction Workhouse. I hope you appreciate the fact that I have decided not to pursue my plan to re-join the Workhouse as Mariel I really believe I could have done your reputation some serious damage…
it would not be a good idea to blog about this. …I would be absolutely furious to find my real name on your blog, so furious that I would have to take some action about it - I am using a pen name because someone in the writing world has hurt me and damaged my reputation as a writer, and if you talk about it online, … editors will then know that this person was you. I’d strongly advise you not to mention it at all. I’m quite angry enough as it is.

Well, I don't quite know what to think. But I would like to say the following:
Message to Editors – I am indeed the person who removed a member from my small private writing site, in mid 2008, for the benefit of the team. Her identity is known only to the then members of that group. I gather her demand for readmission has been declined for the second time in a year by those who are running the site. We all rather hope this is an end to this silly behaviour.

I have judged writing competitions for a few years now and am not in the habit of choosing work according to whether or not I ‘like’ that writer, which is what I am being accused of, among other things. That is a serious allegation.

Message to ‘Mariel Newley’: Your flash piece would have won the competition, because it was the best, whoever’s name was on the piece. I wish you continued good luck under whichever name you use, and hope that you can now look back and see that your time at The Fiction Workhouse indeed did sharpen your work. But being a good writer does not mean you can demand membership of a private group any more than you can demand to stay at my home.

Moving on.

8. Other writing groups that may be of interest:
Critter’s bar is a mixed genre closed site for writers of all levels and it is free of charge. There is also a ‘group within a group’ for those working in greater depth on anon-posted work
Writewords is a paying site but inexpensive. It has some closed groupings in the many forms of fiction poetry novel and so on. There are many ‘site experts’, novelists, poets, short story writers, who give their advice freely. Open discussion forums, lots of calls for subs and writing job info.
Alex Keegan’s Bootcamp Paying site, with tough single-minded tuition style. Where I learned. Hard work required.

9. Reading news

This week I’ve read and can thoroughly recommend Colum McCann’s collection of short stories, Fishing the Sloe-Black River. One reviewer said this:
I think I’ll find myself dipping back into McCann’s River whenever I feel the need to connect with a story. McCann’s taut prose, imaginative descriptions, and characters that seem too deep to have been created in so few words, are part of a masterful collection of short fiction that places him solidly in the lineage of great Irish short story writers. To borrow one of McCann’s own descriptions, his writing is “as sharp as a new blade of grass,” and Fishing the Sloe-Black River is an impressive collection from a remarkable voice.

10. Theatre news

I saw La Cage Aux Folles at The Playhouse Theatre with my daughter in law… it is fabulous! One of my favourite films from decades back.

That is it for this week. Have a good one, write well.


Lauri Kubuitsile said...

Gosh! I would think writing all that might take me longer than blogging my 300-500 words each day.

Lots of- gosh that's impressive!
And more of- Geez what a Twit!

Great about your new collection and the progress on your novel.

Sorry, you had to deal with such a stupido. (not sure if that's a word- it is in my house anyway)

Sophie Playle said...

Wow, lots of info here. And woah, £50 for your book! That's amazing! I feel special getting it for such a bargin price :)

Julia Bohanna said...

You sound together and productive...this break has let you breathe and gather in your thoughts.

Can I take you up on buying a book back from you a hardback? A friend has 'borrowed' mine and is reluctant to let it go...which is a compliment to you but bloody annoying for me. Oh and an autograph would be great too.

I'm afraid you are entering the jungle....where you are now winning at the literary life and attracting attention from the strange and the jealous. Just get back to writing, missus. Some of us just glow when the read about your triumphs...proud to know you. Really.

Hugs and pride all those fings that help the process........

Sara said...

Congrats on your Binnacle success Vanessa. The comments they made are lovely. And hurrahs to the forthcoming collection, progress of the novel et al.

Keep on keeping on!


norton said...

Delighted to hear you are publishing some humour. Love your humourous stories.

Mariel sounds like an arsehole. Ignore.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Thanks for your comments - I was extremely good and did not reply during the week!

Lauri - thanks for dropping by. It is an eye opener how much more I get done without this and that, mostly that!

Sophie - it is now £102.00!! Its just strange.

Julia - I dropped you an email asking for your addy. Did you get it? Thanks for your lovely comments... aaah!

Sara - thanks! I am keeping on - plod plod.

Norton - thanks you v much. I like writing funny. Always have.
Re Mariel: I dont think she is as bad as that! And I hope she finds a good place to work. In fact, a lovely blogging friend is running an article on the Workhouse in a while... and Im offering to talk thruogh the template with anyone who wants to set up their own place like mine. Easy!